Maybe you’re lucky, and you don’t remember a time when you thought there were certain types of people. Perhaps you never swallowed the nonsense from high school that placed a person into categories- band geek, jock, nerd… I’m not sure I was so wise. I think I bought into some of this. It seemed convenient- that all characters, by and large, might align to fit into frames like those Milner so geniusly presented us from Pooh’s Corner- Eyore, Piglet, Tigger, etc. I knew I wanted to be unique, but I think I measured personalities against generic roles for a long time.
Thankfully, like most of us (even if I was a little late to the party), I discovered the fluidity of such frames. I started to step into each one and try it on, and I began to trade them out to suit me.
Once in a while, I forget that I’m not fixed inside a stiff perimeter, that the borders of my image can be rearranged or entirely removed, and I have to start again. Sometimes this process requires a nod at stereotypes, so I pause to analyze or explore the validity or fallacy of these, and I doubt… I inquire of myself- Am I simply living out a predictable path, just fulfilling an archetypal role in society? Am I a mommy blogger? Am I a traditional, Mormon mom, clinging to antiquated values out of insecurity? Am I a liberal, academic, teacher type? Am I an idealist writer with her head in the clouds and no sense of logic or reason?
For a time, I find myself a little lost and a little humbled. And then I write a post… and draft after tedious draft, the post begins to look nothing like its shallow genesis. Instead, it leads me to a place where I can spread my soul out yet again- out to edges that seem, at least for now, to encompass me in absolute perfection. Because writing helps me navigate the sticky identity mess that life sometimes spills in front of us, and it reminds me of what I’ve known before.
Today my drafts lead me to recall a sweet art teacher some years ago, when I overheard her telling one of my classes: “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
A paradox, yes? But oh, the wisdom! You see, in order for little hands to build with the courage and experience it takes to manipulate their medium for desired effect, they must practice. They have to be willing to try and try again, recognizing and finding satisfaction in the good work they’ve made, despite imperfection. They have to have bursts of repeated creative experiences that improve for them over time. Otherwise, when will form the masterpiece? Ah.. but masterpieces do come.
And this is so much what becoming our best selves is about. To approach that perfection, I have to intentionally remind myself that I am good, that my efforts are good, and that I am enough, while also challenging myself to be better, to be more.
Yes, I’m traditional; those values make me feel whole, but I can be kind and accept others choices, the frames they’ve chosen, without judgement. I can be a mommy blogger and still strive for an aesthetic that leaves the reader feeling as if his soul has been laid bare. I can accept reality without having to reject the ideal- and then demand more from my students, from my congressman, from my administration, from myself. I can struggle to perform daily tasks with functionality and know it will get better. Because I’m becoming. I am growing. Even if I am a paradox. You know what? I expect most of us are…